What sets short term connections apart from long term relationships? It probably comes down to trust. There are many factors that can unite two people. However, trust is often the glue that keeps them together. When you trust someone, you feel safe with them. You are able to be vulnerable.

How is trust lost?

Trust takes a while to build. It can be lost in a moment. Any type of betrayal has the power to destroy trust. All types of betrayal involve lying. Being lied to by a trusted partner feels like a violation. Of course, some people are not trustworthy. But we expect our partner to be honest with us. When they’re not, trust is lost. And:

  • We understandably become suspicious of our partner
  • It can permeate all parts of our relationship
  • Communication can break down
  • We can assume the worst-case scenario: the relationship is over

Obviously, restoring trust can be a major challenge.

5 Reasons Why It’s So Hard To Restore Trust

  1. Lack of forgiveness

The betrayed partner may choose to not forgive the other person or themselves. Two patterns may arise. First, we hold onto the pain. We won’t let go and it worsens with time. Secondly, we find reasons to blame ourselves. The one who broke trust must supply an explanation and authentic regret. However, if the trust is to be restored, it takes two. That means forgiving them and forgiving our self.

  1. Black and white thinking

In the heat of the moment, it’s common to see things in the most basic way. He/She lied to me. I can never trust him/her again. I was an idiot to ever trust him/her. Be present with the feelings of hurt that exist, but be careful about the stories you may be attaching to the hurt that may not be true. Give it some time for the feelings to settle down so you can step back from it a bit. Then introduce curiosity.

  1. We often re-live past betrayals

Like it or not, our past can play a role. We want to make sense of the pain we feel so we might replay other times when we’ve felt betrayed. No matter how badly you feel now, there’s no value in blaming your current partner for what some other person did years ago.

  1. We feel shame

Pop culture teaches us to expect perfection. This is a guaranteed recipe for disaster. Life does not resolve itself like some romance novel, movie, or love song. Each of us is complex and thus capable of egregious errors in judgment. It’s important to aim to be who we know we can be.

  1. We want revenge

This connects to the issue of forgiveness. But it runs even deeper. If we let anger win, we probably won’t restore trust. The goal is not punishment. Rather, we must decide if we want to reconcile. If so, anger cannot rule the process. Take some time. Embrace forgiveness. Work to rebuild trust.

It can take a lot of work. But restoring trust can be worth the effort. Of course, it can save your relationship. But also, it will carry over to other connections—friends, family, work, etc. We learn that we are human beings and as such are not static. We also learn that some relationships are built on strong foundations and shared lived experience. Therefore, we must maintain an open mind and an open heart.

Couples Counseling

There are times when the road to restored trust is filled with obstacles. This is when it’s important to get help. Couples counseling is designed to work out issues like this. With the help of a mediator, you and your partner can reconnect. You’ll air out grievances and learn to recognize patterns. Working with an experienced therapist is a safe space in which trust can be restored.


by CounselingWise and Rachel McDavid on June 12, 2017